Who was Homer?

There are two great poems, called the Iliad and the Odyssey, which are the greatest works of ancient Greek literature. Many people consider them to be the greatest poems ever written in any language. For a long time it was believed that they were written by a man called Homer.

He was supposed to be blind and to have lived in Chios in Asia Minor. But today, most experts on the subject doubt that Homer, or any other one man, made up the poems by himself. Nobody, knows for sure how they written, but this is what the experts believe. In ancient Greece there where many poets who traveled from to town telling stories. They entertained kings, noblemen, and commoners by reciting poems made up by themselves or by others.

One of the favorite subject of these storytellers was the Trojan war. Each poet had his own version of that great event and made up his own way telling it. But that at time, writing was probably unknown. So poems were learned by heart and passed on by word of mouth.

Then, about 800 B.C., a very great poet came along. Perhaps his name was Homer, and perhaps it was not. He put together many of the older poetic stories of the Trojan War and made them into one great poem. It was called the Iliad, which comes from Ilion, another name for Troy.

A little later the Odyssey, was put together in the same way. This was done either by Homer or another great Poet. The Iliad, and the Odyssey were so much better than the other versions of the Trojan War story, that almost all of the traveling poets learned them and recited them all over Greece.

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